Friday, October 12, 2012

Whither a soapbox?

About four years ago, I noticed as I studied the scriptures, I would learn things so precious to me that I wanted to share them in Sunday school class when we covered those portions.  I’m not quite sure why it was so important to me to share those things; I just knew that if those things helped me understand, they would help others too.  In Sunday school, I would look forward in anticipation to the moment when that particular block of verses would come up in discussion so that I could share what I had learned.  However, I soon learned that far too often the time was taken on other verse blocks and the opportunity for me to share never arose.  This was disappointing, but I was not discouraged.  I just went looking for other possible venues to share.  (I don’t have kids, so no easy victims there.  My husband listens kindly, but an audience of one seems so limited!)

I tried the Ensign a little bit, but they didn’t bite, whether it was because my writing was too lengthy, or too badly done, or too “out there,” I never quite knew.  It was at this point that I conceived the idea of becoming a seminary teacher (or institute teacher).  I supposed that since seminary classes met each week day, they could go in a little more depth than Sunday school classes.  I thought that surely I could find some way there of sharing the things I had learned.

When I took seminary preservice classes, I was told some interesting things that clarified for me how church curriculum and CES curriculum is set up.  I learned that the church designed it so that every four years, members at every age would go through the entire standard works and cover the basic principles of the gospel.  I learned that the church knows there is only a limited amount of time in classes, so the decision was made to focus on basic foundational principles so that members can at least gain the fundamentals.

What does this tell us?  This means that we can’t say that we will learn everything we need to know at church.  It means that we can’t say that something never (or hardly ever) discussed in church is not a legitimate principle.  It means that if we are not doing our own reading and our own studying, we won’t get beyond the basics.  We need the basics, but we need more too.  And going back to the basics for a review helps us best when we have been learning more.

I am grateful that the church has designed its curriculum the way it has because of how well-rounded it is.  And I am also grateful that I can blog because it gives me an outlet to share many things I’ve learned from my own study of the scriptures.

I also learned that seminary/institute curriculum was flexible with plenty to teach, but that I was expected to stick to it.  In preparing for my student teaching sessions, I found that I was far too often frustrated because I was torn between duty to teach the curriculum (of which there was more than sufficient to cover the time) and my desire to share my own thoughts and insights.  It was a near constant internal war with myself every time I had to prepare a lesson.  This didn’t make for peace of mind, I can tell you.  I learned a ton, but it wasn’t necessarily sharable according to curriculum.  Ultimately, it is probably a good thing I was not chosen to teach seminary or institute.  It meant my blogging could continue, and it meant I didn’t have a constant war of duty-to-curriculum versus desire-to-share-extra going on.

I am also grateful for the internet because of all the people that share their thoughts about the scriptures; it means that it is possible to seek out more knowledge and perspective.  Sometimes revelation comes in the process of seeking and studying the matter out with as many perspectives as you can find.  Sometimes we find out a passage has meaning for us when we read (or hear) how it has meaning for others.

How have you been benefited by sharing your perspective of gospel principles in church classes and online?  Do you or have you in the past sometimes found yourself overflowing with things to share without time or a place to share them?


Avtar Ram Kaur said...

I understand your feelings well. :D I sometimes have to sit on my hands during lessons because I *know* that my comments wouldn't further the discussion in a meaningful way, even though the insights I found are amazing to me. :)

I find outlets in writing on my own blog (hurray for the internet!), writing in my journal (posterity, etc) and more recently while visiting teaching. I have certain friends that I share my personal insights with, and we have great gospel discussions.

I would be scared to be a gospel teacher because of the risk of teaching my own insights as doctrine! I'm not ready for that responsibility.

Rozy Lass said...

I made myself a little card I keep in my scriptures with the acronym K.Y.M.S. (keep your mouth shut) on it to remind me that the insights I gained in my own study were pretty much just for me, that sharing them wouldn't enlighten anyone else. I know the frustration of not being able to share with a large audience, but like the extra oil for the wise virgins lamps, each person must study and gain for themselves. It's great to have a special friend or two (or blog) to share with because we do feel as though we're going to burst if we don't. Thanks for sharing here, I love your insights.

Ramona Gordy said...

I know where you're coming from. It's that "stuff" that's pressed down and still overflowing. My first teaching calling was "Gospel and Principles" and I loved reading that book and I would receive so much revelation, but I could not articulate it. I would prepare my lessons, with "extras" on the side, but my mouth would literally not articulate, dry mouth or whatever. And even when I would manage to throw an idea out, I could see the confusion. But for some reason my Bishop let me continue, even into RS. But the Lord is a kind and patient teacher, because I learned some hard lessons in teaching in RS and one of them was "pride". I teach the 11 year old girls now and what I am learning is humilty and now all those extras fall into place and become a part of the lesson one way or the other.

Michaela Stephens said...

Wow! I didn't realize I would have so many of you sympathize! It's kind of nice to know I'm not the only one who feels this way!

urinalsoftheworld said...

I remember when President Kimball told us all to keep a journal. I did for a while, and as a missionary but couldn't stick with it. If President Kimball were with us today, he'd say 'write a blog'. It's fascinating that the new online version of the scriptures has incorporated tools that make it so easy for you to capture the inspiration you get from your personal studies and save it for a rainy day. Thanks for your insights.

Anonymous said...

Please don't share your own "insights". When my kids took Seminary, we had to spend the dinner hour correcting false teachings. Did you know that the lost ten tribes are flying around in space ships? That's where flying saucers come from. Stick to faith, repentance, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Michaela Stephens said...

Reid, so true about capturing the inspiration and saving it for a rainy day. I've had experiences where inspiration I've captured has become very important to help me resist temptation a few days or weeks later.

Anonymous, I understand your caution about anyone sharing their "own insights." Clearly you have had had to deal directly with the problem of teachers who have not been well-grounded in the gospel and who have speculated a little too freely when they shouldn't have.
I'm glad to hear that you kept tabs on what your kids were learning in seminary and worked hard to correct any errors.

P.S. I thought it was the City of Enoch that was flying around in space ships! ;-)